“I am convinced that the basic cause of some of the most disturbing
emotional/spiritual problems which trouble evangelical Christians
is the failure to receive and live out of
God’s unconditional grace.”
Welcome to week one of our online Bible Study through Freedom From Performing: Grace In an Applause Driven World. If you joined me in December for Experiencing Emmanuel, I apologize for how long it took me to figure out the new system…but, since you’ve decided to start this Bible study with me, I know you’ll give me grace! And, I’m not feeling any pressure to perform! LOL!
Seriously, I’m so glad you’ve decided to be a part of this study. One of the best ways to study Freedom From Performing is to go through the book with friends. Every Wednesday I’ll be posting a blog related to a chapter out of the book. I’ll ask you to read the chapter, complete the “Daily Dose of Grace” portion at the end of each chapter, and participate in our online discussion. Each week I’ll post some questions to get our discussion going. You can gather some girl friends and meet at Starbucks or in your home to discuss the concepts from Freedom, or you can simply check in each week and participate online. Our study will be 12 weeks long. If you miss one, don’t worry, I don’t want you feeling pressured or stressed out. Simply check in the following week, or catch up in between lessons. If you click on the “Continue Reading” link at the end of this introduction you’ll be able to leave a comment and participate.
Have you ever performed in a recital, or had a role in a play? Do you remember how nervous you felt knowing every eye in the audience was on you? I remember oh so well! I remember the joy of feeling successful in my sixth grade play, particularly because I received a lot of affirmation and applause afterward. But, I also remember how defeated I felt after a piano recital in which I was judged and didn’t rank as high as I thought I would. We are so prone to run after applause and affirmation, aren’t we? The problem is when that tendency to perform stifles our walk with Christ!
Chapter One – Born to Perform
In chapter one, I wrote, “My Christian walk was a well-organized self-improvement course, except I wasn’t improving.” I felt afraid for others to know the “real me,” and so I often hid behind masks. As a result, I became a “performance-driven moralist rather than a grace-motivated Christ follower.”
In Matthew 23:5-6, Jesus addressed the problem of performance. He said that the religious leaders were overly concerned with what others thought of them and that they often did good deeds only so that others would feel impressed and applaud. Performance-based Christianity leaves grace out of the picture. Many of us grew up in religious systems that gave us lots of rules to follow and warped our thinking about God. As a result, the temptation was to hide our true selves and develop a false self that we perceived looked better. The problem is that it is our “real” selves that God loves – He loves the messed up me! Jesus came for broken people that they might be redeemed to the Father and be made whole through His grace (John 1:17). He didn’t come for perfect people. Once we have received God’s grace we don’t have to wonder if we are ‘good enough’ for God. His grace tells us that we are fully known, loved, forgiven, empowered and pursued by God.
As we progress through this study we’ll be looking at the simple stories Jesus told. These parables each contain a glimpse of grace that will help us to internalize God’s grace more deeply.
For Next Week
- Read chapter one and complete the “Daily Dose of Grace” section.
- Leave a comment here and introduce yourself.
Group Discussion – Answer one or more of the following questions and leave a comment
- Read the characteristics of the “performance-driven woman” on page 15. Share which of those characteristics describes your tendency to perform.
- What was your religious upbringing like?
- Write the following on an index card and tape it to your mirror:
“Grace tells me I am fully known, loved, forgiven, empowered and pursued by God.”
- If you really internalized God’s message of grace – how might your life change?
- Share your favorite truth from chapter one.